I Pick You - Jettie Woodruff

Chapter One

A heavy raindrop slid down the windowpane, pulling my attention from the submit button. As much as I tried to justify it in my mind as an omen, or a sign not to do it, I couldn’t. It slid down the window because that’s what happened when it rained outside, not because I wasn’t supposed to upload my resume.

My finger hovered over the enter key as I thought about how much my life would change. Even though I knew it was only one year, I also knew I would never get this chance again. It was about to be over with the tap of my finger.

Another wet drop kept me from doing it, this one sliding down a cold can of beer from the dew of the sultry air. I chugged half of it, squeezed the can in my hand and stood from my chair. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I set my sights on Nashville. I only did that teaching degree thing for the scholarship, my ticket out of Hellville, Michigan. I was never supposed to use it.

I ran my hands through my long hair and groaned about that, too. No school district would hire a guy that looked like me. Not only would I have to keep my tats covered, but my hair would be gone, too. All of it. Fuck this. I didn’t want to teach elementary kids. I didn’t even like kids.

The Skype call taking over my computer screen helped me procrastinate a little longer. It was all her fault anyway and my tone was meant to portray that when I answered.

“What?”

“Hey, to you, too. I see you got it set up.”

I adjusted my screen, flipping my hair back when I saw myself. “Yeah, and it slowed my computer down. I could barely even burn a CD.”

Kit rolled her eyes, uncaring of my problems. She only wanted to be a selfish cunt. “I want to be able to talk to her every day.”

“Perfect. Here’s a thought. Why don’t you keep being her mommy, stay home with her where you belong, and I’ll keep being the daddy who pays for her?”

“You want child support from me while I’m in Kenya, Brantley? Is that what it will take to get you to grow up and be a Goddamn father?”

I crushed my empty beer can even more and tossed it into the trashcan, missing by a foot, but only because it banked off the wall. “She doesn’t even know who I am. I don’t want your fucking money. I want you to quit thinking you need to go to the other side of the world to live a ridiculous dream. This isn’t a good idea. I don’t know how to take care of a two-year-old. I’m a country music singer, for Christ’s sake.”

“You’re an Uber driver and she’s not two. Why don’t you stop being selfish long enough to give my dreams a chance? I’m never going to get this chance again. You of all people should understand that. It’s only one year, Brantley. You’ve had since high school to do what you want. All I’m asking for is a few months. One year to do something as near and dear to my heart as playing on sidewalks is to you.”

I knew the sidewalk remark was a punch below the belt, but I didn’t comment on it. I was too busy thinking about what venom I could fire back at her. “This is so unfair. I fucked you a few times over a drunken weekend. That’s it. And now you get to come in and just change it all in the blink of an eye? I didn’t tell you to have that kid.”

“You know what, Brantley? Go fuck yourself. You just stay in Nashville and keep living your dream. I don’t want any part of you rubbing off on my daughter.”

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

I’m not sure which one of us slammed our laptops first and I didn’t care. This was so fucked up. I mean, where did she get off even asking such a thing? I was around the kid one time. One time. That’s it. Once. She was cute, and I loved her. I loved her just fine from Nashville, Tennessee where I made enough money to send her a check every month, not put her to bed every night. I didn’t even know how to do that. Some guys just weren’t cut out to be dads. Without a doubt, I was one of those guys.

I opened my